Is Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper Actually Easier to Hang?

Peel-and-stick (or removable) wallpaper seems like a modern, more doable alternative to traditional wallpaper. But is it easier to install? We asked the pros.

yellow wallpapered entryway

Marty Baldwin

Peel-and-stick wallpaper is one of the biggest home decor trends right now, and for good reason. It’s especially popular among renters who don’t want to lose out on their security deposits by damaging their walls, but homeowners are also discovering the benefits of peel-and-stick wallpaper. It’s a smart choice for some rooms, like nurseries, where there’s a more frequent need or desire to change up your walls. It also doesn’t require professional installation and is easier to install yourself than traditional wallpaper—or is it? Here’s what the experts have to say.

  • David Quarles IV is an interior designer based in Memphis, Tennessee.
  • Molly Borman Heymont is a wallpaper designer and the founder of Housewife Essentials.
  • Elizabeth Rees is the co-founder of Chasing Paper, a popular removable wallpaper company.

Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper vs. Traditional Wallpaper

Peel-and-stick wallpaper has virtually no setup, requires minimal tools and cleanup, and takes just a few minutes to apply. Traditional wallpaper, on the other hand, can be a mess, explains interior designer David Quarles IV.

“With peel-and-stick, you don’t have to worry about the paste, water, and the need to set up a larger workstation where you risk spills of the paste and water mix on your rug—like what happened to me!” he says. “Personally, there is a fair tradeoff in ease versus time and cleanup.”

However, traditional wallpaper does offer its benefits over peel-and-stick. For one thing, it’s easier to fix mistakes as you go, while peel-and-stick wallpaper runs the risk of air bubbles getting trapped under the paper as it’s being applied. It may require an extra set of hands to ensure installation—and your wallpaper—is as smooth as possible.

Two women and one man hanging wall paper
Betsie Van der Meer / Getty Images

Hanging Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper Can Be Tricky

Once you’ve measured and cut your panels, you might feel ready to go, but the hard part is actually the next step, according to wallpaper designer and Housewife Essentials founder Molly Borman Heymont.

“Many people go into a peel-and-stick project thinking it will be easy because there is no primer or glue involved, and right off the bat that feels like a better solution, but then when they get their tools out and start the project they realize: ‘Hey, wait a minute, this may require fewer steps, but it certainly is not easy,’” Heymont says.

Remember, peel-and-stick wallpaper is essentially a giant sticker, so removing the backing adds an extra step.

“The biggest issue is that peel-and-stick paper ends up being the challenge. Typically it’s thicker to start, plus has a sticker-like backing, which is super tough to manage, especially when you are dealing with eight feet of it at a time,” Heymont says.

coral wallpaper accent wall with a fireplace

Better Homes & Gardens / Stacey Brandford

Making Adjustments to Your Wallpaper

The problem with peel-and-stick wallpaper is that air bubbles and mistakes can easily happen, and fixing small snafus can feel frustrating.

“Corrections can be done, but sometimes you need to consider if it’s really worth it, because the more times you peel-and-stick a panel, the more you can crease or create other issues in the paper itself,” Heymont says.

This is where traditional wallpaper is just easier to work with.

“Traditional wallpaper does have more room for adjustment, because the paste takes a while to dry, so you can move it around a bit before it fully dries,” says Elizabeth Rees, co-founder of Chasing Paper.

While you can use a pin to fix small air bubbles in peel-and-stick wallpaper, Quarles recommends enlisting friends or family to help to prevent mistakes in the first place.

“One person should be at the top of the wall positioning the paper and carefully applying it to the wall, and another person should help to pull and smooth the paper,” he says. “I’ve experienced multiple times that it is much easier to install peel-and-stick paper [this way].”

bohemian decor wild for wallpaper
Jay Wilde

Start With Quality Wallpaper

While peel-and-stick wallpaper is available at a variety of price points, it’s crucial to start with a high-quality product to get the best results.

“The quality of your peel-and-stick wallpaper is key for ease of installation. Inexpensive vinyl peel-and-stick wallpaper is typically not high-quality, so it can stretch more easily and isn’t as malleable,” says Rees. “If your peel-and-stick wallpaper is made of high-quality material (such as ours, which is a peel-and-stick fabric), it’s much more forgiving! You still don’t want to stretch it, but you can certainly unpeel and restick it if you need to adjust it during the installation process.”

Overall, peel-and-stick wallpaper can be easier to hang, but it requires help and proper prep. Still, if this sounds like too big of a challenge to take on—or if you’re working with a particularly busy print where it will be incredibly challenging to line up the panels properly—you can always have it professionally installed.

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